OK, not quite a cigar box guitar, but I am making the body using box-like methods (not wood bending), so I guess it counts.  Plus the rest of the design is very much CBG-based (neck through, floating bridge, etc).  This is my first guitar, although I have made a uke previously (it wasn't a traditional design, although it was not really CB style either).  Hoping to apply some of the things I have learned from that build for this one.

About half done so far after a couple of weeks building.  Also making an electric on with my daughter, although that one is a bit behind my acoustic.  Taking my time and not rushing, hoping to get something decent in the end.

Just glueing the f hold binding right now... attached are a couple pics.

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What I can see looks great. Need more "overview" photos of your project. Is it 3 or 4 strings? Fretted or slider? Piezo or Mag pickup? Keep us posted.


I have a couple of blog posts that go into greater detail... see http://www.cigarboxnation.com/profiles/blogs/first-attempt-at-a-guitar (part 1) and http://www.cigarboxnation.com/profiles/blogs/first-attempt-at-a-gui... (part 2).

In summary, it will be a 4 string fretted acoustic instrument.  I am planning on using DGBE tuning (I know how to play ukulele but not guitar, so this would help in that respect).  I am kinda thinking of it as an ultra-large steel stringed baritone uke.  Build-wise, the neck and body are maple, with a spruce sound board and red arariba accents (skunk stripe down the neck and binding).  Wenge fretboard / bridge / tailpiece.

I am hoping that it will sound good enough without any amplification... what do you think the chances are for that?  If I need to I can definitely add a piezo pickup, but I would have to do so before putting the soundboard on, since I don't have any access panels (probably not a good idea, but I didn't think of it earlier).  If the consensus is you always need amplification, I can add the piezo now.  I suppose worst case I could cut the bottom off and re-install with a hinge or something (it would look pretty strange to have a traditional-shaped guitar with a hinged back, hah!)

Great work on this build.

Acoustically it should be loud with all the depth of the sound chamber you have. If you want to amplify it, I would suggest a bar piezo at the bridge and a preamp.

What scale is it?


I haven't quite decided on the scale length yet, but it will be something between 23.5 and 25.5.  Basically it will depend on what sounds best after I glue the top on, but unless there is a big change I will likely go with 24.  (I play the ukulele, so if anything I am more comfortable with the smaller scale lengths... 24 is going to seem huge to me!)

For amplification, I assume the bar piezo would be outside the body and the pre-amp inside?  Or is there precedent for keeping everything external?  The issue is that once I glue the sound board on, I am not getting back into the body unless I cut it open, and I am not looking forward to doing that.  I don't really see any option which allows me to get access to the body after glue-up.  (I probably should have cut an access panel in the back, but I am past that option now since my scroll saw won't fit for the cut).

To be perfectly honest, though, I don't anticipate much in the way of performance with this... on the scale of skills, I am much better at making instruments than playing them (and even in the making part I have a long way to go).  I enjoy messing around at home but that's about the extent of it. :-)

24" is a good scale. I've found that 25.5" is brighter toned, but I tend to like 24" to 25" scales myself for playability. Will be watching your build process.

Cool, interesting to hear the effects of different scale lengths.

I got the sound board glued on today, and by tapping the top it sounds to me that the 23.5 ish scale length is the one that sounds the best.  This makes sense, I guess - it puts the bridge right in the middle of the f holes; looking at arch tops this seems to be where most of them put the bridge too, so I assume there is some reason for that choice.

I am not quite ready to do the fretboard yet - I am waiting for the fret saw that I ordered from cbgitty along with my tuners - and so I am doing the front binding now, but assuming the binding doesn't change how things sound, I will likely end up going with the middle of the f holes for the bridge.  I think the shorter scale length will also allow slightly less tension on the neck (not that it really matters, I am pretty sure that the neck is solid, especially after the wenge fretboard is attached, but better overbuilt than underbuilt).

If you look at a lot of F-Hole Acoustic guitars, you'll see the bridge slightly off-center and the F-holes nearby.

All that placement has to be planed out when making your neck to get the right length for your chosen scale.

Longer scales can be easier to fret with more spacing between frets, but the tighter tension makes it harder to do string bends. You get brighter tone and the harmonics really ring out. So it just depends on what you want out of the guitar and you personal likes, style and technique. 

This is why I like the 24" to 25" scales because you tend to get the best of both worlds when it comes to regular guitar tuning anyway. I haven't tried the 23.5" scale yet, maybe some day soon.

A bit more progress... finished gluing the top binding.  Next step is the fretboard, but probably won't happen for a week or so as I am very busy right now.

Great progress! Keep after it..........

Finished the fretboard inlays yesterday evening.  The fretboard is wenge, and I decided to do maple leaves as the fret markers.  I picked maple leaves for a number of reasons: a) they look awesome, b) the majority of the guitar is maple, so it logically works, c) celebration of Canada 150 this year.  Oh, did I mention that it looks awesome?

I cut this on the scroll saw, using standard inlay techniques (stack a bar of maple on top of the fretboard, with the CAD printed design on top of the maple.  Set the scroll saw table to a slight angle - I used about 2 degrees, although this will change depending on wood thickness and blade kerf - and cut around the design.  You can then glue the maple inlay into the fretboard, and fill in any minor cracks with sawdust + glue.

I decided to put the marker on the 10th fret instead of the 9th since I play the ukulele, not the guitar, and am planning to treat this instrument as an extra-large steel stringed baritone uke.  (Ukuleles tend to have the marker on the 10th fret).

On one of the 12th fret markers you can see a bit of an error if you look closely... the 1/32" drill bit I was using to thread the scroll saw blade through snapped while drilling, leaving the bit embedded in the wood.  When cutting, I had to go around that section, which prevented me from following the image correctly.  I filled it in with some maple dust + glue and it is not too noticeable, unless you look close and know that it is there.  Oh well.

I think the next step is to radius the fretboard.  Hope to have a bit of time to work on that tonight.


Awesome job, love the look.

More progress... mostly done at this point, although after playing around a bit I found some things I want to change.

First up, a quick video with a bit of playing:

I am very surprised at how loud this thing is.  Playing just with fingers is louder than my normal talking voice, and when playing with a pick it is even louder.  I don't have enough guitar experience to say how good the tone is, but it sounds fine to me.

As for what I am going to change, I think I want the neck a bit more rounded (it is somewhat 'boxy' at this time).  I also want to try making the bridge again, as I don't like how this one looks (too small... yeah from a sound POV small is good, but I can at least give it a shot).

Finally, a few more pictures of the finishing process:


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